Rarely do the Yankees see a player retire mid-season, but with Brett Gardner and one too many seasons, it could be time to move on gracefully.
Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is the same person I saw back when he played for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Scranton, PA., in 2008.
Built like a brick wall with all the enthusiasm containing what he would bring to the Yankees, Brett Gardner always presented himself as a throwback to yesterday when every game and at-bat was the only thing that counted.
Fourteen years later, at the age of 37, the Yankees’ lone relic of their last World Title in 2009, Gardner appears to be meeting father time – big time.
He’s still the same guy Aaron Boone reaches to when there’s a need no one else can fulfill, like subbing in centerfield. At the same time, the Yankees continue to find a replacement for always injured Aaron Hicks; Gardner says, “No problem, whatever you need me to do.”
Regrettably, what the Yankees may need from Brett Gardner now is to step aside by announcing what probably is a reluctant and possibly even a premature retirement from baseball.
It’s not only that Brett Gardner’s numbers support such a decision (.194, three home runs, 13 RBI, and an OPS of .614, a full 100 points behind his career average as well as the same when compared to the average OPS of players in the game today.
Yankees: A Team That Needs To Get Younger
Instead, it has more to do with the Yankees turning the corner to reconstruct a team that has yet to find its place in MLB against teams like Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s who continue to marvel experts with their ability produce wins without the three-run home run.
At this point in a player’s career, where Brett Gardner, at 37, has in all likelihood of having reached the end of three successive one-year contracts with the Yankees, all of which have been sealed just before a season’s beginning, the proverbial writing should be on the wall.
This is the end, and while he remains a premium defender in the outfield, the offense is gone.
Yankees’ Nick Swisher: A Lesson In How Not To Do It
Players who reach this point in their career have different responses, and fans can recall the less than graceful fadeaway by Yankees fan-favorite Nick Swisher and peer of Gardner.
Yankees fans will recall how the team almost had to tear the uniform off his back after Swisher’s career ended with an ill-fated attempt to return to the majors. Swisher played in 55 games in 2016 with the Yankees Triple-A farm team in Scranton, Pa, insisting the whole time that, at 35, he could still play the game at a high level.
Interviewed just after hitting a home run during the 2018 Old Timers Game, Nick Swisher was asked how often he misses playing. His answer was quick and terse, “Every day.”
Will Brett Gardner follow the same course as Swisher, trying every which way he can to hold on?
Brett Gardner is playing this year only because the Yankees need him. With Clint Frazier out indefinitely, Aaron Hicks long lost for the season, and Giancarlo Stanton “prohibited” from playing in the field, Aaron Boone has called on Gardner in 76 of the Yankees games this year, and that was not the way it was planned in March.
True to form, Gardner has responded with good play in the outfield, but a bat that’s getting slower and slower and legs that don’t feel as springy as they once did.
A .194 BA, 3 home runs, 13 RBI, 22 runs scored, and one stolen base is not the Brett Gardner the Yankees have known and relied on for fourteen years.
It’s not about the money because Gardner has earned plenty of that (almost $90 million). Instead, it’s about pride and the sheer joy he gets from playing baseball.
Yankees: Giving Brett Gardner His Due
Perhaps, a good way for the Yankees to soften Gardner up a bit is to hold a “Brett Gardner Day” at the Stadium mid to late September.
Bring his whole family to the event, shower them with gifts and attention – and maybe – just maybe – Gardner will realize life isn’t so bad as an ex-Yankee after all.
Brett Gardner’s future is his to map out, and almost certainly, the Yankees will open their arms to keep him “in the family” as a coach – or do I even dare to say it, as their manager.
It’s not within reason the Yankees will offer Gardner another one-year deal during the upcoming offseason, and he will walk away with $1.15 million the team will owe him for not doing so.
The Yankees, known and hyped for their “class” as an organization, have a chance to allow fans to pay tribute to the lone remaining warrior from the 2009 championship team.
Brett Gardner knows it’s time to let go. He just needs a little push, that’s all…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Steven Rosario It’s the GM 100%. They brought up Clint Frazier for what? After how many seasons has that guy proven he can’t field or hit consistently. You’re telling me there is no other outfielder in the entire system that can play left at a pro-level and at least steal bases or move runners over? The GM is brain dead. Author’s Note: Let’s not forget it was a clamor from fans that produced Gardner’s signing, even though they knew they were gambling each time they did so.
Kenneth SchultzIt’s baseball. If he wants to play and they don’t want him the Yankees won’t sign him. No need for anything else.
Ricky Revere Steve Contursi Well, I took forced retirement to be “fired.” And Gardy is one Yankee that plays the game right and has heart! He runs every ball out, knows how to bunt, and work a pitcher. Plays good D and knows how to run bases, etc. Most of the rest of these clowns are a disgrace to the uniform IMHO!
Al Pratt I think letting him retire at the end of the season is best. They have young guys right now and as the broadcaster said last night-no Judge as leader. Gardy probably will manage this team someday. Let him be a leader now. Those guys respect him. (If I were in charge I’d fire Boone and ask Gardy to manage. He’s got the fire Boone lacks.)
Bob J Spat Good Read …… I agree Gardner should know it’s time and Someone in The Organizations upper Escalon to help him understand Author’s Note: Someone like CC Sabathia?
Rocky Hanes In recent years, Gardner tends to catch on fire in the second half. We may need him if we can’t get some MLB ready outfielders soon. But I agree, I think that Gardner should retire at the end of this year. A half-year player brings us down for half the year.
James Harrington As much as I like Brett it’s time for him to retire.
Mike Dolloff Brett should be moved to a player-coach position and bring Data fan Estevan Florio up to play center. But I guess that would make too much sense.
Michael Franklin I’m pretty sure he’s already exceeded the number of games that he thought he would be playing when he signed his contract I guess we could say he’s a victim of being healthy all season
Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts
With this, due to page length, we’ll close published comments.
Readers are split on this one, and while almost all see the end of the line for Gardy, no one wants (including me) to see him forced out.